When barista Victoria Stahl arrives for her shift at 7 a.m. in Terminal 4 at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, the morning rush is already well underway.

A long line of anxious travelers awaits her outside the Starbucks at Gate C1. Immediately, she’s launched into the fray, scrambling to keep up with a seemingly never-ending line of customers impatient to grab their morning coffee before they board their flights.  

She quickly works to hand out latte after latte, but the customers keep coming. The line and frustrations grow with each passing minute. 

“I’m going and going and going for hours,” she said. 

The number of travelers coming through airports nationwide bounced back quickly this summer as vaccinations took hold, but at the Starbucks in Sky Harbor, staffing has not returned at a pace quick enough to meet that demand.